Life after Life was a short film and discussion event presented by Rich Pickings at London Short Film Festival 2016. The event examined the phenomenon of Near Death Experiences (NDEs) and how they can affect people’s lives. It featured a programme of short poetic films about life, death and what may or may not lie beyond. These films were a jumping off point for a discussion with two guests with very different approaches to the subject.
Christopher French is Professor of Psychology and Co-coordinator of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London. French presented scientific research around NDEs, looking at recurring patterns in people’s accounts and biological explanations for the experiences people report. He particularly focused on the out-of-body elements of the NDE, as this is one of the more measurable and replicable components common to the experience.
Raymond O’Brien experienced a NDE during a cardiac arrest five years ago, an incident that profoundly affected him. Since this time he has experienced huge highs and lows, and the experience has become a core part of his identity and his understanding of the world. O’Brien was generous enough to share his experience and interpretation of it with us, offering a unique insight into the subjective reality of an NDE and life following it.
Watch an edited video of the discussion with Christopher French and Raymond O’Brien:
The programme of short films included animation, documentary and experimental moving image. Real life and fictional accounts of NDEs painted a vivid picture of the fear, regret, acceptance, love and transcendence that a person may experience in the moment of their death. Some of the films which played at the event can be viewed below.
In Crossing Over: The Art of Jeremy Down, an artist takes us on a visceral journey through his brush with death, an unforgettable narrative set against an astonishing landscape.
Annlin Chao’s Phantom on the Cliff is an animated account of a mountaineer struggling to come to terms with the mental and physical scars he is left with following a climbing accident.
In Impact, A Boxer’s Story, a boxer who was almost killed in a car accident describes how his experience and faith gave him the strength to not only recover but to excel as a fighter.
Out of Body, by visual artist Susan Aldsworth, uses recurring themes in recorded accounts of NDEs to paint a vivid picture of what the experience can feel like.
Coda, by Alan Holly, is a captivating, poetic animated tale of a man who confronts death – bargaining and resisting its grip before finally releasing himself into its care.
Danny Agama’s Mother and Void is a compelling artist film in which trees shot from a train window come to resemble blood capillaries as the filmmaker reflects on a childhood near death experience and on the nature of life and death.
Moving The Giants, by The Story Group, is an uplifting documentary following a man who, following a near-fatal illness, finds a strong purpose in his life – to save and replant the mighty Redwoods of California.